Don’t volunteer people. At least not for this. Why weren’t they given vests? It’s an exhibition! Why not provide two bullet proof vests that would have been needed? It’s so careless. If you’re shooting a projectile at someone, they should be protected.

Why weren’t prop guns used? They are safe. There’s so much irresponsibility in the story.


A 73-year-old librarian playacting as a victim in a “shoot/don’t shoot” exercise at a Florida police community event was shot and killed Tuesday night by an officer who mistakenly fired live ammunition instead of blank rounds, according to Punta Gorda, Fla., police.

Mary Knowlton was shot several times by a Punta Gorda police officer playing a “bad guy” in the scenario designed to demonstrate the quick decisions police must make on the job, said Sue Paquin, a photographer covering the event for the Charlotte Sun.

Punta Gorda police Chief Tom Lewis said Knowlton was “mistakenly struck with a live round.” The victim was transported to a local hospital where she died.

“I am devastated for everyone involved in this unimaginable event,” Lewis said in a statement. “If you pray, please pray for Mary’s family, and for the officers who were involved. Everyone involved in this accident is in a state of overwhelming shock and grief.”

Lewis contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is investigating the incident, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press reported.

Knowlton had been taking part in the event staged by the Citizens Academy, a free, eight-session course of interactive classes for local residents to teach “the role and responsibility of the various city departments and services they provide to the community,” according to the Punta Gorda city website.

About 35 people were taking part in Tuesday’s event at the Punta Gorda Police Department.

Two volunteers, including Knowlton, were selected at random to play act the “shoot/don’t shoot” scenario in which they are asked to make decisions on using simulated lethal force in a live role play, according to a press release from the department.

The officer involved, who has not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Knowlton’s Facebook page says she was a librarian from Austin, Minn., who lived in Punta Gorda.